Finding the Middle Path (or) Silent Moments with my Brain


Finding The Middle Path

Ten years ago I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).   BPD affects how people feel about themselves, how they relate to others and how they behave.

People with BPD often have an unstable sense of who they are. That is, their self-image or sense of self often rapidly changes. They typically view themselves as evil or bad, and sometimes they may feel as if they don’t exist at all. This unstable self-image can lead to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals, values and gender identity.

In addition, people with BPD often engage in impulsive and risky behavior. This behavior often winds up hurting them, whether emotionally, financially or physically. For instance, they may drive recklessly, take illicit drugs or go on spending or gambling sprees.

People with BPD also often engage in suicidal behavior or deliberately injure themselves for emotional relief. In my case, I resorted to self-cutting as a means of escape. I cut my skin to feel relief… and sometimes to feel anything at all.

The borderline person uses self-cutting to distract from pain, to create a wound to nurture, to tell the world that something is wrong.  With this series of paintings, I turned the knife away from myself and onto my artwork.  Each painting is layer upon layer of color, then scratched with a knife to reveal the layers underneath.

Smoking Jacket with Tentacles

Watercolor and pulverized metal on paper, 9″ x 12″

Smoking Jacket With Tentacles

 New Orleans, 2005

Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 9″ x 12″

new orleans

 There was just no way to tell.  No explanation.

Watercolor on paper,  9″ x 12″

just no way to tell

 Sweet Face, for GG

Watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

no02

M’lady’snotaniron

Watercolor and chalk on paper, 9″ x 12″

m'lady's'not an iron

Silent Moments with my Brain

Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 9″ x 12″

silentmomentswbrain-1

Scratch.

Watercolor, acrylic and chalk pastel on paper, 9″ x 12″

scratch

 

Thanks for being here…

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: The Mental Health System After Dark

January 16th, 2015

At first I thought I wanted to be alone, but now I can’t get enough of people. I have a frantic, indescribable urge to be with people and share and listen. Talk about whatever, not all this stuff that’s killing me.

Sometimes I’m in a state where if the timing is right, I would talk about the reality that isn’t reality.

I tried to get help tonight… started running to the ER then decided to drive. So, I got there and something took me over:  I had to touch peoples’ hair. I asked the receptionist nurse if I could touch her hair. She looked at me, and that was enough to answer my question. I restrained from asking anyone else. Told the receptionist nurse I didn’t want anyone touching my hair either.

Went back to triage… etc, etc. They told me it would be 2-1/2 hours before I could talk to a social worker. “This is happening now, not in 2-1/2 hours, please help me!” Sorry. Next.

Ran out of breath to my truck.  Got lost then realized, I just didn’t recognize my truck because someone had encased it in industrial saran wrap.  Of course they did. Even put a PVC pipe over my antenna so it wouldn’t break.  I walked around and around, unwrapping my truck.

Around and around. I thought of nothing.

Back on the road! Oh yes! The urgent-care-late-night-mental-health-place can help me!  I just need a human to talk to, and I think it should be a professional at this point.

In the waiting room, I decided to sit at the children’s table… found a Scooby Doo coloring book and devoured the story. I thought, “Yes! This makes so much sense!”

And all night it was the only thing that did.

saran wrap dress & wig

Saran-Wrap-Wig effects

Shadows

There is a forest I remember… with an oak tree unbelievable in its twining, fantastic limbs.  I turned a bend and there it was, standing in a deep hollow beside the trail.  It was surrounded by steep and unstable banks, just out of reach.  It was safe.

The bark was cracked, casting dark shades in the narrows between.  It was nearly bare of leaves, which had carpeted the ground below, crisp and coiled.  I felt a sense of magic… the higher powers of nature.  For a moment, I belonged.

I was with people I didn’t know, one of those planned hikes for nature fanatics and/or lonely people.  I was both.

Nobody that was there is imprinted in my memory.  I only remember the ring leader telling incredibly stupid jokes, followed by nervous laughter, setting an air of separation amongst the sparse crowd.

Much of the trip followed a brook… music over stones and moss.  We trekked a few challenging miles that day.  I felt my loneliness deepen.  Alone in a crowd.

As I grow older, my journey seems to become even more introverted.  I find peace in words, sewn together into stories.  Peace in solitude and mindful moments.

I sometimes wonder if I am doing myself a disservice, with my increasingly hermetic lifestyle… but it just feels right.

Guanyin rests on my altar, towering above all else that is there, observing the sounds of the world.  Within her, I can hear the brook, see the heart of the oak tree.  The moss is bright, the shadows deep.

Internal Habitats

I’ve been meeting with an art therapist…  I’ve spoken of my fears around change and unprecedented grief.  This grief has not yet fallen, but it is inevitable.  Intellectually, I am well in tune with the cycle of life… yet emotionally and spiritually, I am tethered to a deep, sometimes debilitating sadness.  I don’t want to fear so much that I miss what I have.  I want to learn to embrace the moment fully… more often… because there is nothing else.

My assignment is to create, using any media, a different internal habitat that frees me from the prison of my thinking.

For starters, I unleashed my internal arsonist and began to turn my prison into ashes.  The ashes… or thoughts… will still exist, but I will no longer be imprisoned by their solid, impenetrable form.

Image

Now, the fire follows me, but I am safe until the glacier melts away the haven I have created.  There is beauty here, my harlequin sense of humor… although I am limited by the form of the glacier.  There will be a time when I must move…

Image

Edges

Edges surround me.  I find a smooth place to sit along the crag, breathing in and out to a rhythm… a moment from the void.  Stepping forward, I am suspended by truth, acceptance.  Somehow afraid and fearless.

I live on the edge of salt and sand… unearthed, I am the crab… amphibious, nomadic, sustaining my life by crossing these edges.  Taking risk is built-in.

I’ve dug graves to build mountains — been in impenetrable darkness.  Always, and not alone, I’ve surfaced.  Adjusting to the light, I have found balance in hope… always a glimmer, even if subconscious.

I am no longer served by the abyss, the chaos, that which distracts from my real truth.  As I embrace simply being… I swim toward myself, brilliantly smiling, foreshortened in aqua blue, Scottish green and gold.

 

 

Header picture:  Varuna, Vedic god of water & the celestial ocean